For the past I don’t know how many years my landline telephone rings 3/4 to a full ring around 3:30 a.m. I lived in Golden Hill 16 years, and I don’t know when it started there. I’ve lived in South Bay nine years and it has carried over to here. I don’t know if it happens every night. I only notice this when I’ve gone back to bed after using the bathroom or if I’m temporarily awake. I’ve called AT&T and they have no idea. I don’t want to sound sensationalistic, but I’m wondering if a law enforcement group might be checking at that time to see if their tap or whatever it’s called is connected. If that’s the case — go ahead and monitor away — I’m clean. Can you come up with a plausible explanation?
— Sleepy reader, South Bay
Quite a few years ago the phone company was threatening to introduce a new telephone area code to East County. The story was that they were “running out of telephone numbers.” What ever happened to that idea? And if they were truly “running out of numbers,” how can we account for all the free Google Voice numbers that are being given out and all the new cell phone numbers, all within the classic 619 area code? Hopefully the telephone company won’t read this and say, “Oh yeah, thanks for reminding us to do that!”
— Steve Terry, El Cajon
Oh, when are huge companies with a stranglehold on lots of customers going to learn that, in the long run, the truth shall set them free? You, Sleepyhead, are the perfect example. You (logically) call AT&T, ask your (legitimate) question, they feign ignorance, and you (perplexed) begin to imagine all kinds of nefarious goings-on that you suspect involve AT&T. Bad PR, I’d say; and PR is the engine that drives big, octopus companies. Yes, of course it’s AT&T ringing your phone from time to time at 3:30 in the a.m. They’re testing their lines, making sure there are no problems in the system, trying to head off glitches before they arise. Preventive maintenance — it’s a good thing. Presumably, all landline users have the same experience. Why the phone company is so coy about it baffles me.
But occasionally the people rise up, wave their fists, put their foots down, do other symbolic things with body parts, and bust the system. The great area-code scare of ’07 is one such situation. Actually, the problem had been dragging along since ’98, when the state PUC ordered a geographic area-code split for north San Diego County and the other counties in the 760 area. Many people in the area would have to change their codes to 442. The bureaucracy and the public information mill moved at the pace of all things bureaucratic until the PUC announced in 2007 that the deed was just months from being done. Finally, this grabbed public attention, and within four months up rose an Occupy PUC–like group to beat down the proposal and argue for a 442 overlay on the existing 760 area instead. In a geographic split, one chunk of an area code’s geography is lopped off and turned into a new-area-code chunk of geography. Everybody in the new chunk must change their area codes from old to new, basically changing their phone numbers. In an overlay, only new phone numbers requested in the 760 geography would receive 442 prefixes, leaving all 760ers unscathed. Two months later, the overlay was approved.
As for technology-specific area codes, like your Google example, they are called dedicated overlays, designed to be applied at the request of companies, agencies, the like. The agency that manages the phone numbering system for the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, and elsewhere swears we’re no longer in a number crunch. The full explanation is snooze-inducing. But apparently that might not be completely true when it comes to IPs and websites. Rumblings are that we’re heading for zero availability in certain tech sectors.
There’s a myth that says some fish eggs can be taken up into the clouds as rivers and streams evaporate. Then they are dropped back to the earth as it rains. Is this a myth or true? I think it’s a myth but I’m waiting for your definitive answer to settle this.
— Langston in Spring Valley
Clouds full of fish eggs? A myth. Waterspouts moving fish eggs to new sites? Probably a myth. Fish eggs transported on animal feet/fur? Debatable to biologists. Fish eggs migrating with flood waters? More likely. Landlocked pond once upon a time not landlocked but linked to a river? Highly likely. I’ve found no stories of a completely fish-free pond suddenly showing signs of finny life. It’s possible, but likely mythical.